Vocabulary: “Shadow”

A term that describes an acoustic and visual relationship between characters. It thus belongs in the same category as Dance and Contrast. Shadow refers to a relationship between characters that are, on the one hand, very similar, but on the other, prosecute a different goal, as a result of which they are placed in a (narrative) conflict. As such it can be considered a hybrid between a dance and a contrast.

Case 1: Ghost Data

‘Ghost Data’ (2013) by Istvàn Lucàcs and Tristan Rocks

Filmmaker: Tristan Rocks

The protagonist is followed by a former version of himself who has the same visual traits, with an additional color layer and a degree of opacity added. Although the look and movement of both characters is almost literally the same, a conflict exists because spatially the impression is created that the protagonist is being chased by his shadow. This adds suspense and direction of movement. In [01:12-01:22] the conflict is enlarged as both are positioned facing one another, and the main character has to ‘kill’ his shadow for the story to start over again.

Music composer: Istvàn Lucàcs

The effect of a main character being chased by an incarnation of himself is integrated in the music, with inclusion of a number of styles and techniques. In [00:23-00:32] and [00:35-00:37] a sense of a canon is created. Throughout the orchestration echo and reverb effects are subtly used. In the end, shadowing, a musical term denoting the use of double rhythmical pulses, is applied as an acoustic counterpart of a visual shadow.

Case 2: Duality

‘Duality’ (2014) by Xavier Roberti and Robin Van Mieghem

Filmmaker: Robin Van Mieghem

The second dancer literally emerges as the shadow of the first. Both share a range of similarities. They have been motion-captured from the same life action dance and as such they move according to a similar pattern. They are both bright and abstracted figures, devoid of any textures or graphical detail, against a black background. There are also some significant differences. A spatial tension is created as one of both is always immobilized while the other moves. Both are also different in their interpretation of the movement. While the main character has a jagged, still shape, the movement of the shadow is round and more fluid. In the end the visual conflict between both is resolved, as both engage in a dialogue and a unity of movement results.

Music composer: Xavier Roberti

The visual contrast is enforced by the pace and the rhythm of the music, which are attuned to the movement of the characters. While in the case of the protagonist this creates a moderate, introverted mood, when the shadow takes over a more vivid mood emerges. In the end, as the conflict is being solved and both engage in a reciprocal relationship, the acoustic equivalent of a shadow is created as the main melody is partially (unisonally) overdubbed by another instrument (first only flute, later with addition of clarinet).

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